September 20, 2022
Introducing LoveHo Selects
To address the elephant in the room over here: No, Tokyo LoveHotels is not what you’re thinking. A monthly art event hosted at Sankey’s Penthouse in Harajuku, the “LoveHo” community is the space for a spectra of budding creatives to host pop-ups, promote their work and network with others of all levels. “The first place we ever did an event was in Shibuya in 2018,” says Kalin Law, fashion artist, DJ and co-founder of the underground group. “The area was in the Love Hotel district, and the name made sense to us: we share one night of love, art and experience, then we say goodbye at the end of the night.”
“My favorite adjective to describe it is buoyancy,” adds co-founder Robin Rastenberger with a laugh. Law laughs too—their balance of humor and carefree approach somehow works; they’ve been successfully pulling off professional events together for almost half a decade. “People are genuinely excited to be in the atmosphere.”
Unlike most art spaces, Tokyo LoveHotels supports artists by providing space for them to perform and exhibit their work free of charge, commission and judgment. Whether a musician is “fresh out of the womb” (as Rastenberger says) and looking for a safe place to test their material in front of an audience, or an up-and-coming jewelry designer looking for a low-cost opportunity to sell their wares, Tokyo LoveHotel’s doors are open. Music, dance, drinks and a custom video game created by Rastenberger every month set a party-like tone, lowering the pressure on artists to feel center-of-attention. “We level everything out,” he explains. “It doesn’t really matter where you’re from, what your experiences are—anyone is welcome here.
“Both me and Kalin are artists. We realized how few opportunities there are, especially within the event scene, for artists to get their stuff out there without having to pay a crazy amount, be it in gallery fees, commission fees, rental space. We needed to build a platform for these young creatives to get their art out there.”
One of Kalin’s biggest joys is watching fledgling creatives use the space as a jumping board to success. “My favorite moment was near the very beginning. A guy did a pop-up for the first time. He used to draw things on the computer but tried printing on T-shirts. He was really nervous and didn’t know where to get started; he didn’t know what he should do at the event to market himself or anything. He was calling me throughout the week, and, honestly, I was supporting him but getting a little annoyed,” she laughs. “I really wanted him to do well. At the end of the night, I asked him how he did and he said he totally sold out. It made me so happy because it was just the beginning for him and now he’s doing great with his brand.”
“They rarely know how to market themselves,” Rastenberger continues, “and they don’t have enough material or products out to showcase who they are and what they stand for. A nice point is that a lot of people come to LoveHotels, see these pop-ups and talk to the people that are exhibiting, which in turn gives them the motivation to start building on their own branding. Then they contact us once they’re ready to have their own pop-up.”
Since its birth, everyone from tattoo artists, live poets, tarot readers, dating coaches to silversmiths, and almost everything in between, have joined the events. “Guests and creatives were matching their flight tickets to Japan to match our event dates before COVID,” explains Law. One of the duo’s main dreams is to become a mainstay cultural hub in Tokyo, so that when visitors arrive in Japan to experience the culture and the city’s creativity, they don’t only come to see the big top ten—but also to explore the up-and-coming people and entities. “It’s a place to experience Japanese culture at its most original and finest,” says Rastenberger.
Beyond the pop-ups, Tokyo LoveHotels has recently begun “LoveHo Selects”, a monthly roundup of highlighted artists to be published in Metropolis media. “This is a chance to help take these artists one step further,” says Law. “If you can also add a media feature into your CV, that’s a pretty big deal. The artists that we will be selecting are those we feel have been motivated about their branding, who have a real flame, a passion to continue.”
If you’re planning to head to a Tokyo LoveHotels event yourself, check your attitude at the door. All guests receive stamps of the mascot, Prostie, but if the entrance staff sees you have a terrible attitude, you’ll receive a yak stamp. “We gotta yak you,” says Rastenberger. “We believe in non-hierarchy. We don’t have a bouncer like a club, so we can’t say ‘you’re in’ or ‘you’re out.’ We call it being a yak because we don’t like people yakking about themselves over their three billion followers on Instagram, thinking they are better than others. It’s not an attacking ‘Hey, you,’ it’s more like a ‘Hey, welcome.’ We’re here; everyone’s allowed to be here. We love you anyways despite your attitude, and we want you to realize that this is a free space. But be kind, be nice.”
Prostie herself is a curvy character who represents every one of us, explains Rastenberger. “She’s a free woman— motivated and energetic, filled with all the contrasting parts of society, just like us.”